A nervy England survived a top-order collapse before dishing out a much-improved bowling and fielding display to beat minnows Afghanistan by 15 runs in a Super 10 Group 1 clash and keep their semifinal hopes alive in the ICC World Twenty20, here today.
Electing to bat, England survived a mighty scare and rode on Moeen Ali (41 off 33) and David Willey’s (20 off 17) late burst to post a competitive 142 for seven.
Later, after two bad days in office, England bowling attack finally came to the party and picked up wickets at regular intervals to restrict the fearless Afghans to 127 for nine.
Chasing the target in search of their maiden win in the tournament, Afghanistan were dealt a big blow in the opening over when dangerous wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Shahzad got out in the third ball of their innings, trapped in front of the wicket by a swinging delivery from Willey.
Much was expected from their skipper Asghar Stanikzai but he failed to rise to the occasion and edged a short delivery from Chris Jordan to Joe Root at first slip.
In his next over, Willey dismissed Gulbadin Naib and from there on Afghanistan kept losing wickets continuously and failed to put on a partnership that could have helped them register an upset win.
Samiullah Shenwari (22), Noor Ali Zadran (17), Rashid Khan (15), Najibullah Zadran (14) and Mohammad Nabi (12) all got starts but failed to make any impact.
Towards the end, Shafiqullah (35 off 20 balls) played a cameo with the help of four boundaries and two sixes, but it was not enough to guide Afghanistan over the line.
Leg-spinner Adil Rashid (2/18) and Willey (2/23) picked up two wickets apiece for England.
Earlier, the start was far from rosy for England as they lost half of their side in 8.1 overs with the scoreboard reading just 50.
Backed by some good fielding, Afghanistan dished out a disciplined bowling effort to control the proceedings for a major part of England’s innings, barring the last five overs.
Jason Roy (5) was the first English batsman to get out in the third over when he was cleaned by a quick delivery from left-arm spinner Amir Hamza.
Moeen Ali has played a fighting innings of 41runs which has taken the total to 141 runs in 20 overs.